• 001.248.556.4615
Block Box Analog Design

A new concept in compression and limiting, that just happens to be decades old
One of the best-kept secrets in the recording industry is BACK and M1 is ready to share it with the world.  Spectra Sonics was an integral part of many classic recordings.  Their op-amps and EQs were utilized in the consoles of some of the most legendary studios in the world.  Over the past 45+ years, their Model 610 compressor has found a devout following, including the likes of Tchad Blake, Dave Cobb, Vance Powell and many more.

Spectra Sonics has offered the world's finest hand-built audio equipment since 1964 and we still adhere to the same rigorous standards. Spectra Sonics is considered "vintage" now, but really it's the forefront of modern recording technology!

The Spectra Sonics Legacy was acquired by a partnership of two former employees in 2007. The same manufacturing techniques which were implemented by Spectra Sonics under its original ownership are still used today. All Spectra Sonics equipment is hand-tested and hand-soldered in our Ogden, Utah facility, by a small team of specialists. All Spectra Sonics equipment undergoes rigorous hands on testing before leaving the factory. Much of the testing equipment used was hand built in the original factory over 40 years ago. Our factory specifications have not changed. You can rest assured that your brand new Spectra Sonics equipment will sound just as good as your favorite vintage unit.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

DEVOTEES SESSIONS : DAVE COBB

IN DAVE'S OWN WORDS
It's funny because I always love old records. There something with the Beatles, the Stones, Waylon Jennings. Whatever it is, I always love the sound of old records, and I love the sound of everybody in one room together. It's very seldom that records are made that way anymore. Hey, I'm Dave Cobb. We're at historic RCA Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. Damn, this business, it's such a long journey. I figured I needed to go to California, so I went to LA for about 11 years. I wound up producing a country record kinda by accident, this guy Shooter Jennings, and the record did pretty good. That led to working with Jamey Johnson, and I kept taking trips to Nashville and eventually I made my way here.

I don't think there's anywhere else in the world that art meets commerce like Nashville. There's more bands, there's more incredible musicians, there's more going on than any place I've ever lived. My heaven is being around a bunch of kinda common minded people that wanna experiment and change and do things. This is the right place for me now. I have been in this studio a few times before. We did Chris Stapleton Traveller in this room. We had about three weeks booked, I think, but we probably finished the record in about half of that time, but we just goofed off in here and really enjoyed ourself. That's when it started to feel like home. The gear is super important cause it inspires me to come in and play around with something new and get excited. I think that excitement translates to the room, the other players, the singer.

I remember hearing a Spectra Sonics probably like 12, 15 years ago and not really understanding it. I heard it again a couple years ago, and a buddy of mine Marc Neil kept talking about Spectra Sonics. Finally I heard a 610 compressor, and once I was shown how to use it, it's probably the ultimate compressor of all time. It's just something about those things, they operate different than any other compressor, but they sound like records. A lot of time we use it as a parallel for something. Sometimes we use no compression on the album and we use the Spectra Sonics as a parallel. We might drive it and kinda distort it and blend it in. For lack of a better term, it sounds a little tapey or something. It has this really rich harmonic thing to it. The other way we use it is we barely touch it so the needle's not even moving at all. You may see a light bleeping, and that peak limiting function, it somehow makes you think sound perceivably way louder without sounding obviously compressed. I feel like we're going through a huge revival of new gear living up to all ruler of the vintage stuff. I think Spectra's one of those pieces. - Dave Cobb, GRAMMY-Award Winning Record Producer

DEVOTEES SESSION : PETE LYMAN

IN PETE'S OWN WORDS
Mastering is a lot more than just making the songs louder. Fortunately, I get to work with a lot of clients that aren't necessarily concerned with the volume, they just want the record to sound as good a possible.

I got in to the audio industry basically through necessity. I've been playing in bands since I was 16 years old and eventually needed a way to record these bands and eventually that led me in to becoming more interested in the mastering portion.

Some of our recent clients include Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Fallout Boy, Weezer. We do a lot of different types of music. Everything from country and Americana to heavy rock and pop music so we're preparing all the different delivery formats we do, digital, CD, master for iTunes and vinyl.

My signal chain is primarily analogue. I do use a few plugins, mostly digital limiting. There's a few digital EQ's I will use to kind of clean up the signal either on the front end or the back end, but primarily all mastering gradient analogue gear and I added the Spectra Sonics limiters about 8 months ago and they haven't left my chain since. I've used them on every record I've done this year and they've been invaluable.

Coming up in the recording world, I got to be around a few Spectra Sonic consoles and hear their mic pres and hear the just legendary stories of records that were recorded on these amazing consoles. When I first got them I was a little unsure. I have to admit, I didn't quite understand how they worked. Typically I'm not a guy that likes to sit around and read manuals so I just put the piece of gear in the chain and that's when I learned about he peak limiting function on these comp limiters. Once I discovered how to use these things as a peak limiter, it changed my life and they changed the way that I master.

The thing I like most is that they're the fastest analogue peak limiters available. You have these at the front of your chain and they catch all those transient peaks that cause problems later on in the chain. Essentially they give your whole chain more head room and allow everything to just work better and cleaner and prevent distortion. Obviously, you can use them as compressors as well, but for me the peak limiting function has really opened up a whole new world for me. - Pete Lyman, GRAMMY-Award Winning Mastering Engineer

SPECTRA SONICS MODEL V610 COMPLIMITER

Compressor and peak limiter with high resolution detented controls, lower distortion, noise, and a +24dBu output

SPECTRA SONICS MODEL V610 COMPLIMITER

In 1969, Spectra Sonics unveiled the Model 610 Complimiter, a revolutionary audio compressor and limiter.  At the heart of the Model 610 was the 601 Compressor/Limiter module.  This module allowed users to employ The Model 610’s compressor and limiter circuitry independently or simultaneously. Its low noise floor, ultra-fast peak limiting and intelligent compression earned the 610 its status as a classic studio compressor that is used by some of the best-known engineers in the industry.

The Spectra Sonics Model V610 Complimiter can be considered an evolution of the original Model 610, utilizing the very same 601 module with updates to fit in 21st Century workflows that include tracking, mixing and mastering.  With amplifier stages based around the low-noise 110A amplifier circuit, the V610 is capable of 65dB of gain and +24dBu, making it a deft mic preamp in addition to its Complimiter functions. 

In mastering applications, the V610 has detented/switched controls for precise recall of all parameters.  The ultra-fast, fixed-timing peak limiter circuit operates fully within a 180 nanosecond range, transparently eliminating voltage transients without applying compression and effectively increasing the headroom of any device placed after the V610 in the signal chain. 

The compressor circuit has a fixed attack around 100 nanoseconds, and variable release timing from 50 milliseconds to 10 seconds with full bandwidth at ratios from 1.1:1 up to 100:1, making it capable of both extremely transparent compression and hard compression.  For tracking and mixing, the V610 can be used to do anything from subtle, automatic gain control, to invisible peak limiting for safeguarding analog-to-digital converters, or to dial in aggressive, fast-release, compression to add color to your sonic palette. 

Though the heart of the Model V610 was designed nearly 50 years ago, its brilliant design still has specifications that go unrivaled in today’s industry, proving Spectra Sonics founder William G. Dilley was decades ahead of his time.  And now, a new generation of engineers is discovering the Spectra Sonics sound for themselves. 

TESTIMONIALS
“I'm hesitant to disclose to other mastering engineers what a wonderful game changer the V610 is.” - Garrett Haines

“They sound HUGE! I used the hell out of them on the new Jason Isbell record!!” - Dave Cobb

"The 610 has been my longtime 'go to' device for dirtying up drums, parallel compression, and other general 'grit enhancement' tasks. Its ability to pump and overdrive make it perfect for things like that. The 610's not-so-dirty little secret is that, with proper settings, it can also be one of the cleanest, most transparent compressors available. Unique and invaluable. A classic." - Pete Weiss

"They've been on every record I've engineered since, (1993), and most that I've mixed." - Tchad Blake

"Behind me in the rack were mounted two 610 compressors that were a perfect fit across the stereo buss. How I missed that sound. Now, it’s back!" - Jack Douglas



SPECTRA SONICS MODEL 610 COMPLIMITER

Original Version Of The Classic Compressor And Peak Limiter

Spectra Sonics

In 1969, Spectra Sonics unveiled the Model 610 Complimiter, a revolutionary audio compressor and limiter.  Unique to this design was its ability to peak limit and compress audio separately.  At the heart of the Model 610 were the 601 Compressor/Limiter module and 101 amplifier circuits. The Model 610’s low noise floor, ultra-fast peak limiting and intelligent compression response made it an incredibly versatile unit and earned its status as a classic studio compressor.  For decades the Model 610 could be found safeguarding levels to tape, strapped across the mix bus, and even before record lathes in some of the most well known recording studios in the world. 

With the fastest peak limiter in the world and a compression attack time around 100 nanoseconds, the Model 610 Complimiter was the first device of this type to eliminate compression pumping and the need for de-essing, while maintaining full bandwidth at ratios of up to 100:1. In addition, the 610 is one of the few, if not the only device of this type, that rivals the best microphone preamps in terms of noise and distortion. Combined with an input threshold of -40dBu, the 610 offers the user the best of all worlds; peak-free transients, adjustable compression, low noise and distortion, and considerable amplifier gain. 

Nearly 50 years after its release, the Model 610 still has specifications that go unrivaled in today’s industry, proving Spectra Sonics founder William G. Dilley was decades ahead of his time.  And now, a new generation of engineers is discovering the Spectra Sonics sound for themselves. 

From the original Spectra Sonics Model 610 brochure, ca. 1969:
“Spectra Sonics introduces the Model 610 “COMPLIMITER,” the newest proven concept in a rack-mounting compressor/limiter system with performance both measurably and audibly discernable as “beyond state of the art.”  This unit performs the functions of peak-limiting and volume-compression, either independently or simultaneously, as a direct function of the type of program input, with performance that is unequaled by most linear amplifiers.  The extremely low noise characteristics of this unique, self-contained system provide a very low threshold of -40dBm, thus allowing the greatest input sensitivity and compatibility with audio equipment and accessories used in the professional recording, broadcasting, motion picture and sound-reinforcement industries.

As the fastest of all peak-limiting devices (100 nanoseconds to 2 microseconds), peak-limiting can be employed with no audible distortion of any kind, thus allowing undistorted recordings, transmissions, etc. at average levels significantly higher than conventional “0” VU (+4dBm or +8dBm) while simultaneously providing maximum amplitude protections.  A white threshold indicating lamp provides the audio engineer – for the first time – a representation of the peak-limiting taking place without the task of monitoring an auxiliary oscilloscope.  A separate red overload indicating lamp forewarns the operator, in advance of overload, exactly when to check his control adjustments without requiring his undivided attention.  The continuously variable compression/limiting ratio assures the widest range of slope control available from 1.1:1 (approximately linear amplification) to approximately 100:1 (flat slope, maximum amplitude protection line).  Coupled with a constant threshold attack level of -40dBm, the need to continuously reset input levels during operation for each new compression/limiting ratio is eliminated.  Variable release time control allows the selection of the smoothest dynamic action commensurate with minimum distortion (typically less than 5/100ths of 1%).  The uniform frequency response of this unit negates the need for “de-ess” roll-off on all high frequencies. 

During actual listening, the absence of noise, distortion, and frequency discrimination is readily apparent.  The Model 610 “COMPLIMITER” is particularly effective in controlling sibilant sounds, restricting extreme ranges, and providing the smoothest dynamic action.”

TESTIMONIALS
“I'm hesitant to disclose to other mastering engineers what a wonderful game changer the V610 is.” - Garrett Haines

“They sound HUGE! I used the hell out of them on the new Jason Isbell record!!” - Dave Cobb

"The 610 has been my longtime 'go to' device for dirtying up drums, parallel compression, and other general 'grit enhancement' tasks. Its ability to pump and overdrive make it perfect for things like that. The 610's not-so-dirty little secret is that, with proper settings, it can also be one of the cleanest, most transparent compressors available. Unique and invaluable. A classic." - Pete Weiss

"They've been on every record I've engineered since, (1993), and most that I've mixed." - Tchad Blake

"Behind me in the rack were mounted two 610 compressors that were a perfect fit across the stereo buss. How I missed that sound. Now, it’s back!" - Jack Douglas



SPECTRA SONICS MODEL 611

Desktop Complimiter

Spectra Sonics 611

Every once in a while, an idea comes along that just works. An idea that makes so much sense that it's hard to understand why nobody else did it before. Enter the Spectra Sonics Model 611 Complimiter.

Spectra Sonics is known for their proprietary Complimiter circuit. The Spectra Sonics Complimiter circuit features the fastest analog peak-limiter in the world. For decades engineers have used this circuit to "invisibly" remove transient peaks from their tracks. Removing even inaudible transient peaks improves the headroom and performance of equipment downstream of the Complimiter. Now imagine applying this principal at the start of your recording chain BEFORE peaks can cause any performance issues.

The Spectra Sonics Model 611 Complimiter is a hand-built, discrete design utilizing custom transformer I/O that accepts a balanced line input, microphone input, or high-impedance ¼" input and is designed to be placed in FRONT of the mic preamp in your signal chain, thereby eliminating transient peaks as close to the source as possible. Removing peaks before the preamp allows the preamp to more accurately reproduce the source before the recording device.

Additionally, the compressor portion of the Model 611 Complimiter can be used to control the overall dynamic range – everything from evening out a bass track, to making a kick drum boom, or crushing a drum room mic. Plus, its small, portable extruded enclosure makes it easy to dial in sounds in the studio or control room alike. Perfect for producers and session musicians on the go.

DOWNLOAD MODEL 611 IMAGES, SPECS & MANUAL>


The STX 100

500 Series version of the classic Spectra Sonics 101 amplifier circuit

Level Or

The STX 100 is a 500 Series version of the classic Spectra Sonics 101 amplifier circuit. The STX 100 is a high-bandwidth microphone preamp with 64dB of gain and a 10Hz to 50KHz frequency response. A 10dB input pad and a dual potentiometer offers continuously variable input pad and output level controls allow the STX 100 to be used with both microphone and line level sources.

The STX 100 represents an affordable alternative for employing the same Spectra Sonics technology of our famous recording desks made over 40 years ago. The unique circuit topology of the STX 100 utilizes a 100 series discrete preamplifier design that was at the heart of every console built by the company. The result is unequaled performance in terms of expanded dynamic range, (headroom), low noise and distortion, as well as extended harmonic content of the amplified signal.

Most, if not all, conventional analog audio amplifiers live in a world whereby dynamic range limitations are dictated by audio program peaks. Audio program peaks, which can average 6dB to over 20dB, effectively reduce the undistorted output of a given amplifier by that peak to average ratio. The reduction in output limits headroom, (dynamic range), increases numerous forms of distortion, and limits the harmonic content of the amplified audio signal.

The STX series lives in the VU world, irrespective of peak to average transient audio program signal material. When a percussion instrument is the source, it is not uncommon to measure transient peaks that are 12dB-24dB above the program material average. Again, the STX series products are not affected by the high transient peak excursions. The first and second stages of the STX 100 utilize independent LED overload indicators to monitor program overload conditions. The result is faster set-up time with consistent and definable results. Drums sound like you are positioned next to them. Guitars have full harmonic content. The dynamic range of vocals is preserved.

To complete the classic Spectra Sonics console channel configuration, the STX 100 has integrated connections for inserting the STX 500 2-Band Passive Equalizer module.

STX 100 Specifications:
  • Gain: 64dB
  • THD: Less than .01% @ 20Hz-20KHz
  • Signal/Noise: Better than 120dB, (unweighted)
  • Maximum Output: +18dBm, 20Hz–20KHz
  • Power Requirement: Less than 50mA, +18dBm
  • Input/Output Control: Continuously Variable/10dB Pad
  • Input Impedance: 5K Ohms, Nominal
  • Output Impedance: Less than 50 Ohms
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz-50KHz
  • Phantom: 48 Volts
  • Polarity: 180 Degrees/Reverse/Mic or Line Input


STX 500

2-Band Passive Equalizer

Stretch 500 Series Compressor

The STX 500 is the rebirth of the Model 500 2-band passive equalizer. The STX 500 has four frequency selections per band and up to 12dB of boost/cut in 2dB increments. This passive EQ becomes the active feedback element of the STX 100 amplifier. Combined with the STX 100 there is zero insertion loss and introduces virtually zero distortion when boosting or cutting.

Each band also features an individual bypass. High frequency centers are 2.5KHz, 5KHz, 10KHz, and 15Khz. Low frequency centers are 50Hz, 100Hz, 200Hz, and 15KHz. Perfect curves evoke the feeling of classic recordings with every knob turn.

PLEASE NOTE: The STX 500 is designed to connect directly to the STX 100 preamp. The STX 500 has no VPR edge connector of its own to plug into an API-style rack. Therefore it cannot be used in a standalone configuration.